One of the streaming wars’ on-going battles has concluded.
HBO Max announced Wednesday that it will finally launch on a Roku devices starting Thursday, December 17th. It is a move we expected the moment the streaming serviced announced it would debut Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas Day.
“We believe that all entertainment will be streamed and we are thrilled to partner with HBO Max to bring their incredible library of iconic entertainment brands and blockbuster slate of direct to streaming theatrical releases to the Roku households with more than 100 million people that have made Roku the No. 1 TV streaming platform in America,” Roku Senior Vice President, Platform Business, Scott Rosenberg said in a statement. “Reaching mutually beneficial agreements where Roku grows together with our partners is how we deliver an exceptional user experience at an incredible value for consumers and we are excited by the opportunity to deepen our longstanding relationship with the team at WarnerMedia.”
The new relationship closes one of the odder battles in the streaming wars. Though Roku devices previously carried the HBO Go and HBO Now apps, Max was treated as a new service and required separate negotiations which dragged on even after HBO Max’s debut last summer. Reportedly at issue was Roku’s ability to sell HBO subscriptions within its own app, as was the case with the Go and Now agreements. WarnerMedia preferred HBO Max to be an entirely standalone app.
Sadly, neither company has offered details of their final negotiations, but it solidifies WarnerMedia’s move to a streaming-centered future. In the year ahead, more first-run films like Wonder Woman 1984 will simultaneously premiere on HBO Max and in theaters. The list of films currently includes all of Warner Bros. Pictures’ 2021 slate, like the fourth Matrix film and The Suicide Squad, but that may change as stakeholders in films like Dune clarify their profit participation in the hybrid release strategy. In fact, Dune producer Legendary Films has been quite vocal in their displeasure regarding WarnerMedia’s seemingly unilateral decision; some reports suggest it may end the current relationship between the studio and the production company.
In the meantime, though, consumers with Roku devices can finally watch exclusive content like Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults and The Flight Attendant starting tomorrow. Also, we expect the news will come as some relief to those wondering how how they were going to see Wonder Woman 1984 next week.